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Hooray, my family is normal!
A Spot of Bother - Mark Haddon
Member Name: flodombey
A Spot of Bother - Mark Haddon
Advantages: Well written, great story
Disadvantages: Its over too soon
Having thoroughly enjoyed Haddon's award winning previous novel 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' I was anxiuos to get my hands on a copy of A Spot of Bother and finally this last month or so I have had the time to read it.
If anything I think I may have enjoyed this slightly more than Curious Incident because I could relate to it very closely and whilst the previous novel was beautifully written and endearing I have no personal experience of Aspergers and therefore no frame of reference to compare it to.
I do however have a family which could be described as dysfunctional (who doesnt!?) and spent this entire novel having moments of complete identification with the characters and events. A lot of the time I wasnt sure whether to laugh or cry at what was happening, I did both because its so vivid that it evokes real emotion as you read.
The story follows George, the patriarch, who is a hypochondriac of the highest order as he battles his own physical ailments alongside the day to day trials and tribulations of his family. His wife Jean who finds his attitude somewhat frustrating, his daughter Katie who is in a relationship her family dont approve of after a messy divorce and son Jamie who has recently come out, an event which George is struggling to come to terms with.
The novel charts the events leading up to Katie's wedding with all the hysteria, emotions and events which happen along the way being shown (and I loved this aspect) through the various eyes of the family, this really makes you feel like you are getting a detailed overview of the scenarios and helps to provide greater understanding of the characters and why they feel the way they do about the events that occur.
Personally I loved the sibling relationship between Jamie and Katie, it reminded me in many ways of my own relationship with my brother because it captures the nuances that go on, the need not to say everything sometimes, the way its a relationship you can push to its limits because you always have but that ultimately you know its as secure as it could possibly be.
I struggled to sympathise with Jean but shes not an unlikeable character, I dont want to give away one of the plot elements which she is involved in, but needless to say she seems to be reaching an age where she puts herself above all else and in some respects its difficult to forgive her certain things.
George is loveable but frustrating. He does encompass that typical bloke thing of not trusting doctors and thinking he is always right, to his own cost. It is interesting to watch him battle to understand his son and try to understand why he is the way he is. George is a complex character but one who is easy to relate to as he battles the strings and arrows of his families fortunes.
This is a great read, I devoured it in about 4 sittings, its one of those which you cant put down too easily. If you found Haddon's style in Curious Incident enjoyable then you definitely will with this one too. It is almost reassuring in the way it portrays family dramas and the way they play out. It will make you laugh, definitely, it may well make you cry too. Curl up with a pot of tea and just indulge yourself in it.
Summary: Great novel, thoroughly enjoyable